Photography with no AI – The making of ‘inspiration illuminated’

Aug 28, 2023

Antti Karppinen

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

Photography with no AI – The making of ‘inspiration illuminated’

Aug 28, 2023

Antti Karppinen

Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe

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Over the course of this summer, I ventured on a personal project aimed at re-lighting my passion for creating images in the way I used to.

Despite having immersed myself in AI tools over the past year, I had scarcely picked up a camera. Determined to break free from this trend, I set out to craft something truly original.

Visualising the concept

I conceptualized a scene where a woman finds herself amidst nature, accompanied by a colossal hand emerging from the ground and grasping a giant light bulb. This artwork, titled “Inspiration Illuminated,” serves as a sort of sequel to my previous piece, “Creative Block.” 

Moodboard

Through this endeavour, my objective was to demonstrate that I can craft captivating narrative-driven images without relying on AI tools or stock imagery. Each minute detail within the composition was crafted by hand or captured in the natural environment. Of course, I put it all together in Photoshop and other Adobe tools.

Creating the elements

The creative process started with an idea and sketching, followed by the crafting of each element. I crafted the hand, first making the plaster mould of my own hand and then using that to create the hand from acrylic resin.

You can see the parts of the process in the video below. I also constructed a miniature landscape using moss, stones, and intricately painted components outside the table of my house.

YouTube video

Earlier on, I had purchased a battery-powered light bulb, which I positioned within the hand’s grasp. It took some hours to perfect the evening lighting and shoot all the needed elements of the backplate image, after which I set about preparing the backdrop for the final image.

Shooting the image

Naturally, the central figure, the woman, needed to be integrated. To this end, I reached out to Taina Törmänen, whom I had long aspired to collaborate with.

Ultimately, a photo shoot was arranged, resulting in the essential component of my artwork. After this, an extensive post-processing phase followed, involving attention to detail: merging the elements seamlessly, refining the tonal palette, and various masking techniques.

And now, after countless hours of dedication and hard work, “Inspiration Illuminated” stands complete. This project, as I mentioned earlier, was a personal challenge—a means to throw myself beyond the comforts of AI that have made the creative process so effortless.

AI versus composite photography

While AI tools undoubtedly offer efficiency and boundless creative avenues, this project holds a significance that goes beyond mere utility. It embodies a level of dedication and emotion that AI-generated pieces sometimes might lack.

Though I remain doing my own and client projects with AI tools for the freedom and efficiency they provide, this project served as a reminder of my artistic roots. The endeavour of putting such immense effort into a single image has made the journey itself as valuable as the resulting art piece.

About the author

Antti Karppinen has won dozens of international awards for visual artistry & commercial photography and belongs to a new generation of image artisans to whom all things are possible. You can find out more about Antti on his website and follow his work on Instagram and Facebook. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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One response to “Photography with no AI – The making of ‘inspiration illuminated’”

  1. Nancy Jones Avatar
    Nancy Jones

    AI will have uses, but it won’t always answer our creative calls. Sometimes we will have something very specific in mind, as this artist had. For some purposes, “close enough” will suffice, but for other, only achieving our unique aim will satisfy us. I’ve tried using AI to actually write copy for a topic, but I found it to be very unsatisfying. The results didn’t read true, so I completely abandoned the concept and just use AI to organize the outline. I use AI in photography to make adjustments to help me present what I saw and/or felt as I snapped the image, and I use AI to produce images to accompany my blog posts if I don’t have a photograph to do the work. But I believe as we progress down the road of learning AI, we’ll find that it’s useful as a tool to assist us in producing what we want, but not to do the actual production.